SEO: What Is It? And How To Use It?

With so much being posted on the internet today, WordPress alone says that 24 blog posts are uploaded every second! Makes it very tough to stand out, which if you want to be successful is essential. On any given day, Google serves 2.2 million searches, showing up on the first page of the results on Google can be the difference between success or failure. This means SEO is essential.

Blog posts are a good way of optimising SEO or Search Engine Optimisation

But what is SEO, and what does it even mean?

Well, you probably know that it stands for Search Engine Optimisation. But what is that? And more importantly, how can you do it?

 According to Wikipedia, SEO is defined as…

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic, increasing visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine.

WIKIPEDIA 2019

Let’s break that down a bit.

When it comes to SEO, there are three main parties, you (content provider), the search engine (Google, Bing, etc) and the searcher (Googler). Something like 90% of searches are done through Google, so we will suppose that the searcher is using Google. So, for example, you have an article on SEO, you will want Google to show it as a top result to anyone who searches for the phrase “What is SEO”.

SEO is the process you have to take to make Google more likely to include your post as one of the top results whenever someone searches for that keyword.  

Off-page SEO Vs on-page SEO

There are two universal categories of SEO, Off-page and On-page SEO.

Off-page SEO groups all the variables Google looks at, that aren’t exclusively on your website, and therefore, in your own hands. This includes sources such as other blogs in your industry, the personal history of a searcher and social networks.

On-page SEO groups all the variables Google looks at, that are on your page that you try to optimise. Such as your headings, page structure and content.

For example, let’s say you own a shop with a shop window, which is messy, it won’t matter if the shop inside is immaculate, people will be unlikely to come into the shop.

The other way around and people will leave your shop veryquickly, and the same happens on a website, this is called ‘bounce rate.’

This is why you have to do both on-page and off-page SEO, first we will look at

Off-page SEO

Let’s have a look at that shop window. There are four significant areas to consider with off-page SEO.

Personal

This category is mostly out of our control; however, there are several things to increase your chances of appearing for the right audience.

Country

All searchers want to see content that relevant to the country they reside in. The opening times of recommended stores and restaurants appear in your local time zone.

 Search engines can interpret words differently; for example, a thong in Australia would be an item of footwear, whereas in another place in the world it can be a piece of underwear!

The way to tell Google that you want to target specific countries is by including them as keywords.

Searchers history

If the person searching has been on your website or page before, you’re more likely to show up because Google thinks it’s more of a relevant result for them.

City

This takes geo-targeting even further and is why you see results from just around the corner when searching for restaurants. Again, using the city names as keywords helps, but be careful of not ring-fencing yourself to only the local area.

Socialisation

Do you have a YouTube account? If so, the more people to subscribe to your channel, the better. When Google sees that someone likes a brand on a Social Network, they are more likely to show them results from that brand.

Social

That leads nicely into the social factors of off-page SEO. Besides the social signals of the searcher, there are other ways positive results on Social Media will push you up the rankings, that can be direct, through more links or indirect through a PR boost. There are two main factors of influence

Quality of shares

Much like the quality of backlinks who shares matters just as much, if not more than how often. Google recognises influencers, and when they share your content, this gives their share more SEO juice than your neighbour’s.

Number of shares

There are a lot of tips and tricks out there on how to make“viral content”, but the answer is quite simple

Make awesome content

That’s not that easy, considering it means different things to different people! The best thing to do here is to find out what your target audience likes and concentrate on that. If you can tap into the emotional triggers of your audience, that helps your content get more attention in the long run. Another tip would be to promote it like crazy!   

Links

There are plenty of ways to get backlinks; however, whatever you do, don’t just wait for people to start linking to you. You have to take the initiative and go out and ask for them.

There are three factors to consider when trying to get backlinks

Number of Links

the total number of links you have is essential, you need to build high-quality backlinks at scale over time.

Quality of Links

Links aren’t everything, but when looking at links, specifically the quality of the links is essential. It matters more the quality than the number of links you have, quality over quantity. Building quality backlinks is all about reaching out to the right sources and offering value in exchange for their link.

Anchor Text

The text the linking site uses is called the anchor text. A good rule of thumb is the more natural the link is, the better, so instead of ‘click here’ it’s better to mention it naturally in the flow of writing.

Trust

Googles famous formula ‘PageRank’ isn’t the only measure they use when ranking pages in the top ten search results. Trust is getting more and more critical, and the most recent Google updates have hit what it considers spammy and obscure websites.

TrustRank is Google’s way to see whether your site is authentic or not. If Google thinks you look like a big brand, its more likely to trust you. Good quality backlinks from authority sites help with this; there are four parts to building Google’s trust;

Bounce rate

As explained in Off-page SEO Vs on-page SEO, the bounce rate is a measure of how many people view only one page on your site before leaving again straight away.

Usability, Content, Attracting the right customers and loading times are all way to optimise (lower) your bounce rate.

Authority

Google decides the overall authority of your site by mixing two kinds of authority that you can build, Domain Authority, which is how widespread your domain name is, for example, apple.com is very authoritative because lots of people have heard of it. And Page Authority, which refers to how authoritative the content of a single page is on your site, for example, a blog post. Building your authority in the simplest way is hard, but it’s worth it as this is virtually algorithm proof, you do this by building high-quality editorial links. Mainstream media sites are an excellent place to gain these, so it’s a good idea to try and do things that encourage them to link to you.       

Identity

Having a brand or a personal identity online is a massive signal of trust to Google. You don’t have to have a brand name; a personal brand works just as well. More often than not, people prefer brands they know over ones they don’t recognise; building brand signals help prevent any penalties from future Google updates. 

Domain Age

The most respected people are usually the older ones, when we look for advice, we typically go to the wise old owl, well the same counts on the internet. Domain age matters if only a little. If you haven’t got your site set up yet, it might be worth looking into an affordable expired domain and using that.

Domain Age contributes towards good SEO or Search Engine Optimisation

On-page SEO

Now we can look inside the shop!

There are three main areas of on-page SEO,

Html 

This is a big chunk of the on-page SEO, but it doesn’t have to be hard, you don’t have to get a degree or be a professional coder to be successful. Thanks to places like Codeacadamy, and others, there is more than enough opportunity to learn HTML in the blink of an eye. There are four parts of HTML that you need to optimise for every piece of content you put on your site.

Title Tags

These are the online equivalent of newspapers headlines.They are what shows up in the tab of your browser when you open up a new page.

The HTML tag for them is called a title. But when it comes to blog posts, it often becomes a heading of the first order or an H1-tag.

Every page should have at least one H1 tag to make the title clear to Google.

HTML is 1 of a number of eements Google look at when it comes to SEO or Search Engine Optimisation

Meta Description

Meta descriptions are what show up as an excerpt when Google returns that page as a result to the searcher. It is quite easy to optimise this and quite easy to see who hasn’t.

Schema

Schema is a language vocabulary of tags or micro data that you can add to your HTML to improve the way search engines read and represent your page in their results page 

Moz has some excellent tips on how to optimise Schema.

Content

Who hasn’t heard the phrase “content is king”? Bill Gates made this bold (well then anyway) prediction back in 1996. But it’s as accurate now as it’s ever been. Why is that? Simple every searcher is happy when he or she finds the result that serves their needs in the best way. For example, if you Google “quick and easy homemade choc cake” Google will try as hard as it can to return what it believes to be the best recipe for homemade choc cake that takes less time and few ingredients, on the entire web.

It won’t just return just the quickest recipe, just the easiest recipe or even some online shops to buy choc cakes. It will try to give you precisely what you wanted.

Google always tries to give the searcher the best experience possible by linking to the best content it can find. This means it is imperative to produce great content.

These are the factors that make up great content in Googles eyes.

Freshness of content

According to HubSpot, Posting more frequently improves Google rankings. But that’s only one way to signal freshness to Google, and there are plenty of this you can do to a piece of content to keep it updated. While it is important to publish regularly, it is possible to achieve good results posting once a month, as long as your content is in-depth and thorough.

Keyword use

 Google has gotten wise to what’s called keyword stuffing, and while you should use your keyword throughout your content, jamming it in as much as possible won’t work. There is no exact formula for the number of times to include keywords, or at least Google hasn’t told us there is! But its best not to make it look spammy. Google is now interpreting the meaning of searchers’ keywords to high success, it now not only looks at your keyword but synonyms of it too, in order to understand what you mean when you type something like “Odeon BH2.”

Using Keywords is the best tactic for SEO or Search Engine Optimisation
Source Google

Google will know that you’re not looking for a roman building built for singing exercises, musical shows and poetry competitions. But instead, it guesses that you were indeed searching for the cinema chain. As long as you make sure your keyword is there in strategic places (like URL, meta descriptions and headlines) there is no need to mention it lots in your text.  

A good rule of thumb to follow is to think of your reader and integrate your keyword seamlessly a few times.

Direct Answers

Google will sometimes provide searchers with a direct answer at the top of the results page, which is getting more common, with a recent study stating that 48% of searchers queries were answered by this method. With that said if you optimise your content for this reason, by writing clearly enough for Google to recognise it as an answer to a particular question, it will be shown just below the search bar.

Moz has a great list of the critical aspects of optimising for direct answers.

Optimising for direct answers in Google search is 1 way of using SEO or Search Engine Marketing
Source Google

Quality

Gone are the days when writing a good quality piece of content was enough to get you noticed. However, it’s still an essential starting place for any online business or SEO effort. Even if you’re a complete beginner its quite easy to get started, you can often ‘borrow’ other people’s content, rewrite it, make it better, more extended, and more in-depth.

An excellent professional approach would be to make writing a daily habit.

Keyword Research

A crucial part of great content is doing your keyword research upfront because you want to include your targeted keyword throughout the article and in the title. Out of all the on-page SEO factors, this is the one you want to spend your time learning. There is plenty of great articles out there on how to do Keyword Research, and there’s no need to buy a book.

Architecture

The last area of on-page SEO is Architecture, and although this is a very technical area, there are a few things that everyone can do to optimise for better SEO rankings.

Good user experience is based upon a proper website architecture, focusing on things like fast loading times, an excellent mobile-friendly design, and a safe connection.

The best way to excellent user experience (UX) is by reverse-engineering your site by getting into the heads of your users and mapping out the architecture of your site before even buying the domain.

You will also need to optimise for a great “search engine experience”, and there are a few things you can do for this because the easier it is for Google to access your site the higher it will rank!

SSL and HTTPS

Google now warns searchers when a website is not secure; it was believed that for some time, security had been a ranking factor. There are two main common security protocols: SSL (Secure Socket Layer) and HTTPS (a secure version of HTTP). It’s quite hard moving from a non-secure connection to HTTPS or SSL and can take some time. If you’re starting with a new domain, consider buying one from your domain registrar or your web host service. There are also some useful WordPress plugins like Really Simple SSL that will help you install one quickly.    

SSL is a ranking factor Google look for in SEO or Search Engine Optimisation
Source Really Simple SSL

Easy to Crawl

Search Engines use things called ‘spiders’ to “Crawl” from one page of your site to the next through links. Depending on how easy they can index your site. They’ll be more likely to report back that your website is a good result. The broader your links through your site, the easier it is for these ‘spiders’ to reach all of the pages and give the search engine a better understanding of your website. Creating a sitemap with either a plugin on WordPress or an online XML sitemap generator will make this job easier for Google.

A websites Mobile Friendliness shown on a iphone a ranking factor in SEO or Search Engine Marketing

Mobile Friendliness

If your page isn’t mobile-friendly, then you’ve lost the game before kick-off. According to Statista, last year (2018), 52.2 per cent of all website traffic worldwide was generated through mobile phones, up from 50.3 per cent in the previous year. And that’s only expected to rise, over 54 per cent of Facebook users access the site exclusively on their mobile devices.

An excellent place to start with mobile-friendliness is Google’s free tool

Most WordPress themes are mobile-friendly, but if not, you can always install a plugin to take care of it.    

Keywords in URLs

Making sure your Keywords are in your URL is an essential par of SEO or Search Engine Marketing

You shouldn’t squander those SEO points. Including your keywords, in the URLs of your blog posts is an absolute must.

Duplicate Content

There are a lot of myths surrounding duplicate content and whether it hurts your SEO or not. One common mistake is that everything on your site has to be original.

Unless it’s done in a spammy way, reposting your content on other websites or publishing your guest posts again on your site will not hurt your SEO. However, if you publish your content on a third-party site like Quora or Medium, it might hurt your rankings because Google will index your Quora or Medium article first because it is on the more authoritative domain. This is often referred to as a “canonicalization” problem.  This can happen on your site as well. Because the same short description of the post is being pulled from the first few lines of the post and displayed on the blog category page which technically speaking, is duplicate content. This is usually happening automatically, and you’re probably not even aware of it, as WordPress pulls this excerpt automatically.

Luckily there are several ways to fix issues like this. But it all depends on what’s causing the issue. If you know what you’re doing the, you can delete a few lines of code, which will fix the above issue in about 30 seconds. But if you have multiple versions of the same page a canonical tag is needed to help you specify which one is the original. All you have to do is pop in a line of code that references the original like this


<link rel=”canonical” href=https://breakthemouldmarketing.com/why-start-with-a-social-media-audit/   />

Fortunately, plugins such as Yoast SEO make this relatively simple. You can either set the default page or post version as the canonical so that it always adds this line by default, or you can specify it manually under the advanced settings options for each page or post:

Stopping Duplicate content using Canonical URLs is reccomended in SEO or Search Engine Optimisation

Page Speed

In today’s world, time is everything, and that’s the online world as well, and long load times can kill your conversions.

You can use Google’s test my site tool to get a quick read of how your site speed is and how much work is needed. Google then generates a report with things you can do to optimise your site. There are plenty of other tools out there like Pingdom.

Conclusion

SEO isn’t optional anymore, and I hope that if you only takeaway one thing its that you realise you have to be doing it. The most important thing is to do your keyword research before you write your next post. Then use your keyword to optimise the basics; it won’t take a lot of effort to get this right. If you don’t, it may kill your online presence.

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